Saturday will see the second day of action at World Cup 2018, as Group C and D kick-off with some of the biggest names in Russia taking to the field. Here is what is happening on a hectic day of World Cup action:
France v Australia (kick-off 11 AM)
France heads into this game as the favourites to win the group and one of the favourites to win the competition this summer. Didier Deschamps side are packed full of talent and should make a big impact in Russia.
Les Bleus lost the final of Euro 2016 on home soil. However, they will be confident of going all the way at Russia 2018.
Australia have lost just once in 18 games in World Cup qualifiers and finals. The Socceroo’s are a solid and physical side. Bert van Marwick’s side has enjoyed decent preparations, winning three of their last five internationals.
France victory and under 2.5 goals
Argentina v Iceland (kick-off 2 PM)
Argentina are another one of the favourites to win the World Cup. However, La Albiceleste often underwhelm, as they struggle to get the best out of a talented cast of individuals including Lionel Messi.
Jorge Sampaoli’s side struggled to qualify from the South American qualification section but should have enough quality to get the better of their Nordic opponents.
Iceland have risen in stature in the world game in the last few years. At Euro 2016 they made the quarter-finals before topping their qualification group ahead of Croatia.
The Nordic team will not be easy opponents for any team in this group. In fact, Gylfi Sigurdsson and co. are likely to make it hard for their South Americans in this clash, although they have failed to win in their last four outings.
Argentina win and over 2.5 goals
Peru v Denmark (Kick-off 5 PM)
Peru qualified for the World Cup via an intercontinental win over New Zealand. The South American nation will be at their first World Cup in 36 years in Russia. However, they will fancy their chances of making the last 16 from the group, as they are unbeaten in 15 international games.
Peru have built their recent run of good form on solid defensive foundations, as they have conceded just once in their last seven outings.
Denmark also needed a play-off to book their place World Cup 2018. Some see the Danes as slight favourites to make the knockout stages, as they have a tight defence and the brilliance of attacking midfielder Christian Eriksen on their side.
Scoring goals could prove a problem as star striker Nicklas Bendtner will be missing due to injury. Age Hareide’s side have scored just three times in their last four outings.
Draw and under 2.5 goals
Croatia v Nigeria (Kick-off 8 PM)
Croatia have a highly talented squad, who have underachieved in recent years on the international stage. Their biggest achievement thus far in the international game was finishing third at France ’98, their first ever World Cup.
Zlatko Dalic’s side did not make it easy for themselves in qualifying, needing a play-off win over Greece to make it to Russia. They have quality but head into this tournament on the back of two wins from their last five matches.
Nigeria are perennial qualifiers for the World Cup and will be making their seventh appearances at the finals this summer. The Super Eagles have never gone past the last 16 stage in the competition.
They have talent in their ranks, but are unpredictable and have a number of youngsters in their squad. The African are realistic contenders to qualify for the knockout stages.
Croatia win and under 2.5 goals
Who will take the early advantage in Group C and D?